Friday, May 10, 2019

Pants on Fire - Paul Lo Duca's Joe West Accusation

Speaking on his podcast, former MLB catcher Paul Lo Duca accused umpire Joe West of accepting a gift in exchange for ball/strike calls—the only problem is that West never officiated on any date Lo Duca's accusation pertained to. We fact checked Lo Duca, who also destroyed his credibility in the first 10 seconds of his fable, claiming that Joe West ejected him "eight or nine" times out of 15 career ejections, which is an untrue statement (see fact check, below).

In what, at this point, can only be described as a tall tale, Lo Duca said "Joe hates me," and went on to describe a Phillies-Mets game from 2006 or 2007 when New York pitcher Billy Wagner entered in relief, claiming that Wagner admitted to bribing the umpire with a car: "I lend him my '57 Chevy so he can drive it around so then he opens up the strike zone for me."

Fact Check - Wagner Appearances: We researched all Billy Wagner appearances against Philadelphia from 2006 through 2009 (when Wagner was on the Mets) and it turns out that Joe West was never his plate umpire. The one game Joe appeared in with Wagner on the mound was an August 30, 2007 game in Philadelphia, and West was the second base umpire; Ed Hickox had the plate.

Fact Check - Lo Duca Ejections: Lo Duca was ejected eight times during his 11-year MLB career. West ejected him once in 2003—and that's it. West never ejected Lo Duca before a game started, which is another event Lo Duca claimed during his podcast.

Ulterior Motive: Lo Duca's accusation occurred in his capacity as an analyst on a sports betting podcast, much like fellow ex-Met Lenny Dykstra's 2015 comments about blackmailing umpires came during an interview to promote his book.
Related PostLenny Dykstra Claims He Blackmailed Umpires (10/27/15).

Lo Duca isn't the first ex-player to tell tales.
Slanderous Danger: Lo Duca's casual accusation not only affects West, but Wagner as well, as Major League Rule 21 states that any player who "gives, or offers to give any gift or reward to an umpire for services rendered or to be rendered, in attempting to defeat a competing Club will be permanently ineligible"; umpires accepting such gifts will also be declared permanently ineligible.

Obviously, MLB hasn't declared either person ineligible.

Why Run the Story at All? This editorial decision falls somewhere between not giving credence to what appears to be an especially boldfaced lie (why we didn't address it several weeks ago) and reconciling with the reality that several mainstream media outlets have recently picked up on the story and are portraying it as the real McCoy, or at least something to consider to be true, without having researched any of it (why we are addressing it now).

Gil's Call: In this case, it is important to fact check such a severe story and provide a public service of clearly indicating the accuracy of several key aspects of the story. Namely, we were clearly able to conclude that Lo Duca's claim that West ejected him in at least eight out of 15 career chances was inaccurate (it was once, out of eight total ejections), and we were able to conclude that West never called a Billy Wagner game against Philadelphia when Wagner was on the Mets (and thus, when Lo Duca caught Wagner on the Mets). Hence our title, "Pants on Fire."


Post a Comment